Labour's emergency cost-of-living plan shows why all politicians are not the same – Ian Murray MP
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If energy prices soar as predicted, 50 per cent of people could fall into fuel poverty. Inflation has hit a 40-year high, with prices rising faster than wages, precipitating a devastating recession ahead.
Without action, the tragic truth is that people will die.
Businesses will go bust, people will lose their jobs, and public services including the NHS will be beyond breaking point.
You often hear people say they’re not interested in politics, or that nothing changes regardless of who is in power, that all politicians are the same.
But the coming months will show just how important political decision-making is to ordinary lives. Government action – without delay – is vital.
Yet we’ve seen nothing of value from holidaying Boris Johnson and his zombie government, or those squabbling to replace him.
This is a national economic emergency, but the Conservatives are putting the profits of oil and gas giants before the interests of the public.
Only Keir Starmer has a solution. He has put forward a fully costed plan to freeze bills this winter, typically saving households £1,000, paid for by taxing oil-and-gas producers which are making record profits.
The Labour plan to freeze bills is the only way. People just can’t afford any further increases. It’s as simple as that. We can either freeze bills or see people freeze.
In Scotland, we’ve seen little of substance from the SNP, which cares more about grievance than using Holyrood’s powers to help.
In fact, the First Minister said last week she could do nothing and mocked Keir Starmer for saying he was “set to” announce a major energy crisis policy.
Just imagine being First Minister and waking up each day thinking another toxic referendum is more important than fellow Scots being unable to afford to heat their homes.
Instead, Scottish Labour is calling for emergency legislation to be put before the Scottish Parliament, as the starting point to give Scots immediate help.
Our plan sets out areas where Holyrood can act urgently, and it could be passed as an Emergency Cost of Living Act when the Scottish Parliament returns.
From freezing rising rents to supporting struggling businesses, Scottish Labour is determined to act.
We would freeze energy prices for six months.
We would end the premium paid for energy by around 425,000 customers in Scotland who use prepayment meters.
We would extend energy-bill support to all off-grid households, offering help to up to 217,000 Scottish households.
We would support businesses in energy-intensive industries with a £1 billion fund.
And all this would lower inflation by four per cent.
People across the UK deserve better than two governments trivialising our politics and ignoring the issues that matter.
The total lack of ideas and ambition from both our governments has been all too clear.
More of the same won’t do.
There’s no task more central to Labour’s ambitions for Britain than making the country and its people better off, which is why Labour will fight the next election on economic growth.
We need a response that matches the scale of this crisis, at both Scottish and UK levels, and only Labour has provided the ideas that the country so desperately needs.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South